In a letter to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, attorney Christ Troupis says Ysursa's demand that Education Voters for Idaho disclose sources of money spent on TV ads by an affiliated group in support of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 has "severely infringed" his client's First Amendment rights.
Troupis wrote Friday that the group formed in August will not disclose its donor or donors, saying it is a "social welfare organization" under Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and exempt from Idaho's Sunshine law. He also said Ysursa is selectively enforcing the law, citing contributions from two teachers unions, the Idaho Education Association and National Education Association to the campaign opposing the propositions.
It appears Troupis suggests a compromise, hoping to head off a lawsuit threatened by Ysursa to force disclosure of who paid for $200,350 in ads. Last month, Education Voters for Idaho transferred the money to its affiliate, Parents For Education Reform. In turn, Parents for Education Reform paid for the advertising. The source or sources of the money remain secret. The Statesman reported the transfer and Ysura's concerns last week.
Troupis suggests having Parents for Education Reform return the money it received from Education Voters for Idaho and asks Ysursa if that will cause him to stop demanding disclosure.
"It appears that Parents for Education Reform (PFER) meets your requirements for disclosure if it refunded to EVI all contributions EVI made during the 2012 election cycle," Troupis writes. "In that event, pursuant to Idaho Code 66-6607, all contributions and expenditures by PFER would be accounted for in future Campaign Financial Disclosure Reports. Please advise us, in writing, if this course of action is acceptable to you for complete resolution of the matter."
If not, Troupis says his clients will fight back in court. "If necessary, we are prepared to defend those rights, and establish the validity, though we hope and expect that a resolution will avoid such action."
A legal fight could delay disclosure until after the Nov. 6 election. Ysursa says such a delay would undermine the Sunshine law, which was passed by 78 percent of Idaho voters in 1974.
Tim Hurst, Ysursa's chief deputy, said Friday afternoon that a decision has yet to be made on how to proceed.
Troupis, of Eagle, is a former GOP Senate candidate who successfully sued Republican Ysursa over Idaho's open primary, prompting the Legislature to enact the new closed primary law.
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